Mindful Eating: Open Your Mind Before You Open Your Mouth Articles

Mindful Emotional Eating – a Humanistic Harm Reduction Approach

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

MeeHere’s a question that’s a lot on my clinical mind: “What do clients want and how do I help them get what they want?” This very question is at the core of humanistic harm reduction (HHR).

When my client presents with concerns about “emotional eating,” I ask myself the same question. When you, as a clinician, get in the habit of asking yourself this question, the answer becomes rather self-evident. What emotional eating clients want is obvious: they want to eat when they feel bad and they don’t want to feel bad about eating. They want to feel in control during this coping, self-soothing episode (both during and after emotional eating). But they have come to believe that eating to cope and feeling in control are somehow mutually exclusive.

Not so! We can help our clients have exactly what they want. Yes, they can eat to cope and, yes, they can feel in control (both during and after the emotional eating episode). How? With the help of mindful emotional eating (MEE).

Mindful emotional eating satisfies two self-regulation fantasies: To eat and to feel in control. Mindful emotional eating allows your client to pursue change without sacrificing what they want. To clarify, I am not talking about emotional eating. I’m talking about mindful emotional eating.

The book that I have coming out later this fall is not about how to stop emotional eating but about how to eat emotionally in moderation, more effectively, and without self-judgment and self-loathing. Here’s the table of contents for the upcoming book on mindful emotional eating to give you a better sense of what it’s about.  If you are a clinician and you are interested in reviewing this book, you can contact me at www.pavelsomov.com

Table of Contents

Foreword by Linda Craighead, Ph.D., author of Appetite Awareness Workbook

Part I: Short Term Mindful Emotional Eating (MEE)

Chapter 1:      Opening the Mind

Chapter 2:      Emptying the Mind

Chapter 3:      Waking Up the Mind & Keeping It Awake

Chapter 4:      Not Minding the Mind

Chapter 5:      Programmatic Notes: Packaging MEE

Chapter 6:      Ego-friendly, Humanistic, Nonperfectionistic Homework

Part II: Long Term MEE

Chapter 7:      Ordinary Perfection: Leveraging …


Mindful Emotional Eating

Monday, September 8th, 2014

MeeI have another book coming out later this fall – on mindful emotional eating (not on emotional eating or on mindful eating, but on how to make emotional eating mindful).  Here’s a foreword for this book from Linda Craighead, the author of Appetite Awareness Training who championed the idea of effective emotional eating.  If you are a clinician and are interested in writing a review/blurb for the book, please, contact me through my book site: www.pavelsomov.com

Foreword from Linda Craighead:

Pavel’s book on Mindful Emotional Eating is a gem of a toolkit that will be invaluable both to individuals seeking a mindful eating self-help option and to practitioners looking to infuse more mindfulness into their work with clients distressed by emotional eating. Pavel’s Humanistic Harm Reduction approach is a breath of fresh air on a topic that is particularly difficult to address sanely in the current culture. Obesity has become a “hot “ topic; it threatens the health of the next generation and will bankrupt our health care system if we cannot find a better way to come to terms with the inherent double bind society has created. Food is engineered to appeal directly to our biologically-based preferences for sugar and fat and food is more accessible than ever before. We are subjected to an overload of advertising with the messages “Indulge yourself- you deserve it” and “ More is better”. A “tall” is the smallest option even available at Starbucks. Marketers appear to believe that small or medium sounds so negative that only a fool would want such an option. If food portions are all “above average”, our weight will also be above average.

Under the current circumstances, no knowledgable person is surprised by the increase in obesity but short of invoking a food police state, a viable solution remains elusive. Substantial long-term weight loss for those who are already obese requires nothing less than a lifestyle makeover that must be maintained forever, and only the most motivated individuals have been able to do this successfully. Many experts in the field have essentially given up on …


Mindful Eating Moment # 804

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Mindful eating moment # 804: “Standing on a city park bench, eating mulberries. A summer treat.”

Share yours.

Mindful Eating Tracker


Eating is Yoga

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

 

9781608821013The Sanskrit root of the word “yoga” means “to yoke.” Therefore, yoga is literally union. In truth, all of your existence is yoga. You are made of this world. You depend on this world. If this world ends— locally or globally—you end too. There is no absolute self-sufficiency, and therefore no stand-alone self. All separation is relative, a trick of the mind. Untrick yourself at your next meal. Recognize that you are not apart from this world but a part of this world. Eating, just like breathing, reminds you of this union. As such, eating is yoga; eating unifies. And your dinner table is a yoga mat for your mind. Stay in the asana you are in. When you eat, eat.

Adapted from “Reinventing the Meal” (Somov, 2013)

 


A Seed of Awareness

Friday, June 6th, 2014

 

9781608821013Botanically, a seed is not the potential for life; it’s already a life—a tiny plant life with a lunch box of its own food, awaiting a journey of life. In my book The Lotus Effect (2010), I shared a story about 1,300-year-old lotus seeds that managed to germinate and grow when given a chance.

Eat a handful of seeds to meditate on how innocently your metabolic needs result in killing. Here you are, taking care of yourself and, at the same time, denying a living thing its chance to grow and flourish. Wrestle for a moment with the question of which is more important, you or those seeds. My answer is you, of course. If those seeds could eat you to survive, they would. Life is inevitably self-serving. As long as there is a self, it is going to serve itself a serving of environ- ment. That’s just how it is. So, even as you contemplate this inevitable zero-sum metabolic scenario, enjoy your sustenance. No guilt, I say— just compassion and gratitude!

Adapted from Reinventing the Meal (Somov, 2013)

 

 


Disconnecting Through Eating

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

 

9781608821013Breaking bread with someone is a form of intimacy. But eating can also alienate. As Lucille Schulberg wrote in Historic India, “A primary impulse behind the caste system was probably the fear of spiritual pollution through food” (1968, 140):

[The Indians believed that] the mana, or ‘soul-stuff’ of human beings was the same as the soul-stuff of food, especially vegeta- ble food. Unbroken cereal food—grasses growing in a field, seeds waiting to be gathered—retained their soul-stuff when they were handled; anyone could touch and eat them safely. But once grain was softened in cooking or seeds were pressed for their oil, their soul-stuff mixed with the soul-stuff of the person who prepared the food… A taboo on sharing food with an outsider—that is, with anyone not in [one’s] own caste—was a protective measure against such spiritual pollution… The higher a caste, the more restricted its menu.

A couple of questions for you.

  • Do you believe that the “soul-stuff” of food is the same as your “soul-stuff”? If you do, how does this inform your eating? If you don’t, how does that influence your eating practices?
  • Also, in what ways are you an eating outcast?
  • How does your eating style isolate you?

Ponder how what you eat might have stratified you socially. Ponder how connecting to something existential or spiritual through eating can also lead to some degree of social disconnecting.

Adapted from Reinventing the Meal (Somov, 2013)

 


A Bite of Knowledge from a Tree of Mindful Eating

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

 

9781608821013When you eat a fruit, such as an apple, you are stepping—wittingly or unwittingly—into someone else’s reproductive cycle, becoming involved in a kind of ménage à trois with a tree and Earth in a life-giving project.

In fact, when you eat a piece of fruit, you are literally eating a plant-based sex organ. A fruit, botanically speaking, is a sexually active part of a flowering plant. When you consume an apple, you eat its fleshy, sweet, pulpy ovary tissue, and then you participate in the process of seed dispersal by throwing out the apple core.

Naturally, if you shred the apple core and its seeds in a kitchen garbage disposal, there isn’t any life-giving going on. But if you eat an apple and toss the core into your backyard, you might just be participating in the birth of a future apple tree. Ponder this apple bite from the tree of knowledge before your next meal.

Adapted from Reinventing the Meal (Somov, 2013)

Share your mindful eating moments at Mindful Eating Tracker

www.eatingthemoment.com

www.drsomov.com

 

 


Craving Control: Controlling By Letting Go of Control

Friday, May 30th, 2014

 

9781608821013Mindfulness involves two essential mechanisms: applying a certain kind of attention and practicing disidentification.

Attention can be active or passive: that of an active observer or that of an uninvolved witness. This distinction is easy to understand through contrasting such verbs as “to look” versus “to see.” “To look” implies an active visual scanning, a kind of goal-oriented visual activity. “To see” implies nothing other than a fact of visual registration. Say I lost my house keys. I would have to look for them. But in the process of looking for my house keys, I might also happen to see an old concert ticket. Mindfulness is about seeing, not looking. It is about just noticing or just witnessing without attachment to or identification with what is being noticed and witnessed. This is where disidentification comes in.

Cravings (for dessert or something specific to eat, or just to keep eating) come and go. Mindfulness—as a meditative stance—allows you to recognize that craving is a transient, fleeting state of mind, and just one part of your overall experience. Mindfulness teaches you to realize that this impulse to keep on eating is but a thought inside the mind. Yes, it’s part of you, but it isn’t all of you—which is exactly why you can just notice it, just see it without having to stare at it. In sum, mindful- ness—as a form of impulse control—is a strategy of controlling by letting go of control.

Adapted from Reinventing the Meal (Somov, 2013)

www.eatingthemoment.com

www.drsomov.com

 


Taste of Longevity: Long Life is Sweet

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

chocolatesFascinating new research:

“Bitter tastes could have negative effects on lifespan, sweet tastes had positive effects,” reports Science Daily.  At least, in fruit flies.

Michael Waterson, a Ph.D graduate student in U-M’s Cellular and Molecular Biology Program, explains: “Findings help us better understand the influence of sensory signals, which we now know not only tune an organism into its environment but also cause substantial changes in physiology that affect overall health and longevity. We need further studies to help us apply this knowledge to health in humans potentially through tailored diets favoring certain tastes or even pharmaceutical compounds that target taste inputs without diet alterations.”

Here’s how I make sense of these intriguing findings.  When life tastes good, it seems, the body positions itself for a longer existence.  When life tastes bitter, the body, it seems, fails to thrive.  Conclusion: a sweeter life makes for a longer life, whereas a life of bitterness (and sensory deprivation) might not last as long.

I am sure you heard the expression “life is sweet.”  Perhaps there is a correction in order: “Long life is sweet.”

A take-home message: awaken your senses!

Also makes me wonder, in the spirit of harm reduction, if a sweeter-tasting cigarette would be less dangerous, less life-shortening than a comparable one that is not as palatable.

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ps: Coincidentally, the other day, while putzing around in my yard, I spotted an unfamiliar plant – a long, sturdy stalk.  I yanked it out of the ground, for no good reason, and, for no better reason, tasted the sap.  Bitter as hell!  “This kind of reckless experimentation could have shortened my life,” I thought to myself and went inside to get another cup of coffee, which I decided to take with cream and sugar, instead of the usual packet of sweetener.

Source: Science Daily: Taste Test: Could Sense of Taste Affect Length of Life?

Chocolates image available from Shutterstock.


Eat With Your Eyes Closed

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

 

9781608821013Close your eyes to see—with the mind’s eye of mindfulness—what you are eating.

Mindfulness is a kind of “super-vision” because it allows you to see with the eyes shut.

Mindfulness “over-sees”… and, thus, serves as a platform for self-control.

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Adapted from “Reinventing the Meal” (Somov, New Harbinger, 2012)

Share your mindfuls at Mindful Eating Tracker

 

 


Reinventing the Meal
Reinventing the Meal
Present Perfect
Eating the Moment
The Lotus Effect The Smoke-Free Smoke Break
Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D. is the author of The Lotus Effect, Present Perfect, The Smoke-Free Smoke Break, and Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time.


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